Shoppers in Leeds say they feel little has changed despite 'Freedom Day'

‘Freedom Day’ in Leeds looked like business as usual today (Monday) with most shoppers still wearing masks and many voicing their caution amid rising infection rates across the city.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 8:04 pm

The Yorkshire Evening Post spoke to shoppers as they embarked on retail therapy on the day the Government lifted all Covid-19 restrictions.

Although face masks are now no longer mandatory in shops, many still chose to do so, citing concerns over the “sudden” relaxation of rules against a backdrop of high case rates.

Millie Dyer, 23, a medical student from Staffordshire, who also works part-time in a care home, was visiting Leeds where her boyfriend lives.

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Shoppers in Leeds on 'Freedom Day'. Picture: James Hardisty

She said: “I’m still wearing my mask. I’ve seen quite a lot of people not wearing them but I personally will carry on wearing mine inside.

“There are so many [Covid] cases, for me personally, I don’t want to self-isolate, that’s so inconvenient for me.

“I have been double-jabbed because I work in a care home but people who have been double jabbed are still getting Covid.

“For me, with the amount of cases at the moment, I will try to take all precautions.”

Millie Dyer, 23, was still choosing to wear her mask indoors.

Katie Reddish, 20, of York, who was shopping with sister Emily, 17, said: “I think most people seem to still be wearing masks inside.

“We are, because restrictions have stopped so suddenly and cases are so high, it doesn't seem a great decision to me.

“We are planning on wearing them for the foreseeable. We have a holiday booked in just under a week and I would really like to be able to go and I don’t want to isolate.”

Nadine Saul, 84, of Oakwood, was out in Leeds and said she was going to carry on wearing her mask, choosing to wear it outside as well.

Sandro Dimichele, 40, of Moortown, welcomes the relaxation of rules.

“My son has been shopping for me all the time and I have only started coming out about five weeks ago. Twice a week I go to M&S. I felt comfortable in there because people seemed to be obeying the rules.”

She added: “I don’t think he [Boris Johnson] should have allowed all those people at Wembley, going back home to various parts of the country. I think that was a disgrace.”

But Sandro Dimichele, 40, of Moortown, was keen to take the opportunity not to wear his masks inside shops.

He said: “There are more people [in town today] and most people aren’t wearing masks. All signs are still up but I haven’t had anyone say ‘put your mask on’. I have a mask with me in case they did.”

Nadine Saul, 84

He welcomed the Government’s ‘freedom day’ decision, saying: “We have to just get on with our lives. If we are all going to be vaccinated and even though the numbers of infections are going up, it has to be related to the numbers of deaths and hospitalisations. We can’t carry on much longer with us being locked down. It’s time to start living our lives.”

The UK Government's decision to ease restrictions on social distancing and mask wearing, and replace it with guidance, comes as the country has already hit 50,000 Covid-19 cases a day.

In Leeds, rates are up to 599.65 per 100,000, with hospitalisations rising according to Leeds City Council's chief executive Tim Riordan in a Tweet posted earlier this evening.

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Katie Reddish, 20, left, with sister Emily, 17.